Tuesday, October 30, 2012

October Thanks-living {a linky}

I really had to think about what I was thankful for this month. It was not much more than a blur of activity. But after a few minutes, I knew.

I wanted to focus on her. My first born.
I'm so thankful for her.

She came home from school with a trumpet. It surprised me because she was vying for clarinet in 5th grade music class. But the clarinets got taken before she had a chance to choose. I felt that mommy-bristling that happens when our kids don't get what they want. But soon after, my husband came home from work. He beamed at her, and said, "You don't know this, but you come from a loooong line of trumpet players." And he told us both for the first time how his father and grandfather were great trumpet players. His grandfather taught all four of his sons to play the trumpet, and for a time, they played in a quartet together.

Isn't that an unexpected twist to the music class drama that I was tempted to focus on? God knew. I'm so thankful He knew.

I did her hair Pippi-Longstocking style for Crazy Hair Night at Awanas. Which is a big deal, guys. I'm really bad at doing her hair. I've sweated and stressed and tugged and tangled and maybe even cried over being a mom who has never been able to do nice hairstyles in her daughter's hair. Ever since she was a toddler. I just stink at it, and I wrestle with inappropriate guilt over it. I know she really wishes I could French braid or put her hair into soft curls every so often like other moms, but I can't. It sounds ridiculous, but just trust me. I've tried and failed so many times. So this was a big deal. I'm thankful for this one success.

She really likes owls, so I found a template online and outlined it onto her pumpkin for her. Didn't it turn out great? I'm thankful that she's the kind of girl who isn't afraid to get her hands in the yucky stuff. She isn't afraid to try, and create, and laugh.

She brought her endless creativity to her costume this year too. She wanted to make it up. She was a butterfly fairy. She chose these wings, and then designed a crown and sash of flowers and butterflies to wear over a pretty blue dress. I'm so thankful that she is not afraid to be herself. 

And here she is in my backseat. I'm so thankful she's been in this backseat of mine for the last 10 years. But this grown up version of her wears fedoras, passionately sings along with Taylor Swift as she reads the lyrics, and drinks chocolate milk like it's going out of style.

This last photo is from our mom and daughter date last weekend. We did some shopping, singing to the new Red album, and plenty of crafting the aforementioned costume.

To be totally honest, it was not my best day. I was hard on her at times. I struggled with the way our personalities sometimes clash. I have a need for order and structure in ways she does not. She has a need for processing things on the inside and I do not. I just barf all my thoughts out at her half the time, and they're not always pleasant ones.

And so I think the thing I'm most thankful for this month is her grace and forgiveness. She is so overwhelmingly gracious to me.

I hope one day to be more like she is.



Monday, October 29, 2012

A salvage517 special from these hungry characters

I thought this was the funniest picture from our trip to the p-patch last weekend. I get tempted to throw everything Halloween related into the "bad" category, and of course, nearly all of the creepy stuff out there in the stores and on people's lawns is not stuff we choose to embrace in our family. But I also think we can take life a little seriously sometimes too.

With discretion and sound judgement, we can also be silly. And this picture says that to me. I mean, look at how each skeleton - even the dog! - represented each of our family members so well. I'm even wearing a chunky green necklace! C'mon. That's funny. I may have to put this photo in a frame and display it every October, because one day, my kids won't be so little and able to enjoy these kinds of family moments. Life irons the silly right out of us, doesn't it?

So in the name of silliness, caramel apples, cider, miniature boxes of Junior Mints (my personal favorite), photos of our kids dressed as super heroes and fairies, and all the fun we'll get to enjoy this week.....

Please enjoy a special discount code for my shop!
Use code "FULLMOON20" for 20% off your total purchase.

{special ends when you see Snoopy rise out of the pumpkin patch,
or Wednesday at midnight...whichever comes first}

OH! and I'll be posting my October Thanks-living linky a little early, Tuesday evening instead of Wednesday, for those of you who may be extra busy on Wednesday...so get your posts ready with all you've been grateful for this past month!


Sunday, October 28, 2012

101 Wednesdays, Week 5

This week in 101 Wednesdays, we studied the life of King David. From his childhood, to his encounter with Goliath, to his prolific song writing.

In answering the first homework question, my mind went straight to the election. The prophet Samuel goes on God's direction to find the new king. He assumes one of David's older, more handsome brothers is the choice God has made. But God tells Samuel, "I have rejected him. Man looks at the outside appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." The question read: How do you observe this same truth at work in our world today?

It made me think of how we evaluate those who are vying to be our nation's leaders. We often judge their outward appearance, perhaps because it is so hard to evaluate their hearts. We have become skeptical of all politicians, haven't we? Dishonesty is so rampant that we are left to resort to more superficial criteria when making a choice.

I was also reminded that even though we cannot see their hearts, the Lord most certainly can. And does. I'm SO THANKFUL for that, aren't you? I trust that God knows what He's doing in the upcoming election, and while I will step in and cast my votes, I can pray for God's will to be done on earth as it is in heaven regardless of my limited understanding of what's best for our country.

Did you get a chance to flip through the book of Psalms and notice how many David has written? (It says "A Psalm of David" at the top of those he wrote.) And they are not just poems, you know. They are songs. He was a great musician. I love how his songs speak to so many different emotions and experiences. So many were clearly written in his pain and questioning, and yet so many were written full of joy in his victories. There may be a Psalm for every occasion to encourage us on our journeys too.

Well, this week, we wrap up the Old Testament in the Jesus Storybook Bible. I'm so excited about these next stories. The first one, on Namaan's healing, was the story on which Beth Moore spent our whole weekend teaching when I saw her a couple weeks ago in Long Beach. (I still need to share with you some more goodness about that weekend!)

For now, here is the homework for the week. Sorry I'm a few days late getting it up!

Week 5

Chapters 17-21, to page 175

Jesus Storybook Bible
1. Read 2 Kings 5:10. What EXACTLY did Elisha the prophet tell Namaan to do? Think about that. Now, WHY would God require this seemingly unnecessary repetition when we know He could have healed Namaan with one dip in the water? As a reader of this story hundreds of years later, what does this tell you about the relationship between repetition and healing?

2. The next chapter we learn about talks about Isaiah the prophet. There were many prophets, but Isaiah is my favorite. Some of the chapters contain my favorite passages in the whole Bible. Read Isaiah chapters 40 and 41 in your spare time on a quiet morning or evening. You may recognize many famous verses in those chapters. Write down a few that speak to you personally.
3. Daniel is another very long and complex book of prophecy. But it also includes the wonderful story of his time in the lions’ den. What is one lesson we can learn from this story when we are persecuted for our faith?
4. Next we come to poor, rebellious little Jonah. Share at least one of the following:

• A time when you knew the obedient choice, but went the other way

• A time when you felt angry and unforgiving to someone who didn’t deserve forgiveness

• A time when God saved you from worse consequences than you deserved
5. Knowing God’s standards is meant to bring conviction which leads to repentance and receiving forgiveness. But often, we take it a step further and let in guilt. Guilt is NEVER God’s plan for us. Guilt keeps us stuck and sorry, instead of joyful and hopeful that we are forgiven and have the power to change. Take a minute to pray, like God’s people did in Nehemiah chapter 9. Confess your tendency to wallow in guilt and forget about God’s huge love and forgiveness. Ask Him to teach you the healthy way to deal with your mistakes, and tell Him about your desire to follow Him.



Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Jesus and Adele

I was thinking about something Jessi said on Instagram the other day: "In order to influence, you have to be influenced." And she posted a photo of her open Bible. I know this truth, and I appreciated the reminder. I have nothing to offer anyone else unless I'm filled up first. And I so know that I have nothing to blog about when I'm not spending time in His word. I just feel....speechless. No inspiration.

So I was wondering what I've been inspired by lately, feeling a bit convicted for neglecting my time in the Word. Pandora was playing in the background. And then this Adele song came on. Which, I was reminded, is actually not an Adele song, it's a Bob Dylan song, sung by Adele.

But the words were not from Bob Dylan or Adele this time I heard it, though I've heard the song a hundred times before. I heard Jesus speaking them...not in my ears, in my heart. He brought a lump to my throat, and I was reminded that the Gospel is everywhere.

When the rain is blowin' in your face
And the whole world is on your case
I could offer you a warm embrace
To make you feel my love.
 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Psalm 91:1,4
When the evening shadows and the stars appear
And there is no one there to dry your tears
I could hold you for a million years
To make you feel my love.
You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book.
Psalm 56:8
I know you haven't made your mind up yet
But I would never do you wrong
I've known it from the moment that we met
No doubt in my mind where you belong.
But you are a chosen people,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people belonging to God,
that you may declare the praises of him who called you
out of darkness into his wonderful light.
1 Pet 2:9
I'd go hungry, I'd go black and blue
I'd go crawlin' down the avenue
No, there's nothin' that I wouldn't do
To make you feel my love.
But he was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.
Isaiah 53:5
Though storms are raging on the rollin' sea
And on the highway of regrets
Though winds of change are throwing wild and free
You ain't seen nothin' like me yet.
No one is holy like the Lord!
There is no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.
1 Sam 2:2
I could make you happy, make your dreams come true
Nothing that I wouldn't do
Go to the ends of the Earth for you
To make you feel my love.
 This is how we know what love is:
Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.
1 John 3:16

He is so good to us, isn't He?

{lyrics from "Make You Feel My Love", by Bob Dylan, 1997}


Monday, October 22, 2012

A pumpkin patch trip (I think fall is finally here!)

I look forward to a trip to the pumpkin patch with my family all October. But I secretly boycott it until the weather here feels fallish. The heat, in the 90's all September and off and on for the last few weeks this October, has been tormenting me. I refuse to go to the p-patch in a tank top and shorts. It's like eating watermelon at Christmas. Just wrong.

Finally, this past weekend, the temp dropped somewhere in the 70's. The sun even hid for a few hours. Phew.

While some of us put on some slightly warmer clothes for an overcast late afternoon at the p-patch, a 7-year-old in my company was very unhappy. The idea of long sleeves and pants was so offensive to him that there was door slamming and loud stomping throughout the house. A compromise was found when he was allowed to wear a short sleeved Star Wars tee in case he was "sweating to death," and the long-sleeved one could just be tied around his waist. We are spoiled by the sunshine here, it's true.

The afternoon was really fun. No one sweated to death. There were actual leaves on the ground that were brown.

Here are a few of my favorite shots from our time.

Now if only the "gold" she panned for and collected in that little sack could have paid for that ginormous pumpkin.


{it's on}

{the new stuff is here}


Sunday, October 21, 2012

{announcing a salvage517 shop update on Monday}

New things arrive in the shop Monday!

Introducing salvage517 earrings.

And here's a glimpse of one of my favorite new creations.
Vintage Thanksgiving postcard displays.

More necklaces made with my recent finds and such will be in there too.


Have a blessed Sunday.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Mentoring #4: I am not in charge.

(For those of you who are new here, I am a long-distance mentor to my friend Casey Wiegand. And every so often, I write mentoring posts that appear on her blog. This one appeared a few months ago. I like to post them here later, so that I have a record of it in my own space. And for those of you who haven't seen it yet, well then it's new to you!)

I run a pretty tight ship in my house. In fact, I feel like a captain, most days, barking orders, and managing my crew. I can actually get so involved in managing my kids, my kitchen, and my calendar that I convince myself that I am the one in charge. That I am in total control. But the other day, a friend asked me a question that reminded me of the time in my life that truly taught me how NOT in charge I really am.

She asked me, “How did you decide to have only two kids?”

It was in an email. Right away, I smiled at the assumption: that I decided. I'm not faulting her; it's common language among mommies.

"So. Are you guys gonna have more?"
"So. Is this baby your last?"
"So. When are you going to start a family?"

It is all very common language we use with the underlying presumption that we are so in charge. Well, in regards to that email, I knew mine would be a long reply, and not quite what my friend expected. I told her something like this.

My first pregnancy came easily. A couple tries and boom. Pregnant. Which equalled a lot of false reinforcement that I was indeed in charge of myself. So about a year after I had my daughter, we started trying for another. Thinking I was the boss, I decided I wanted my babies to be two years apart.

But it didn’t happen. A few months later, it still didn’t happen. My belief that I was the one in charge started showing cracks, so I powered up. Several months later with no baby, I began to live in 2 week increments: two weeks of anxiety trying to determine when I was fertile, and two weeks of anxiety until I could discover whether or not it “took.” I’m sure some of you have been there. I read books. I feverishly prayed for God to buy into my plans. I went so far as to begin logging my daily waking temperatures in an Excel spreadsheet, and I stressed out if some circumstance messed up the science I had made out of getting pregnant. Still nothing. Nothing, of course, except a crazy, emotional roller coaster and a strain on my marriage.

The structure of belief about my own sovereignty was slowly starting to crumble. It was what needed to happen, but it was also terrifying. What in the world did that mean if I was not in charge? Twelve whole months passed, and so I went to my OBGYN. Unaffected by my shock that I couldn't get pregnant, she wrote me a prescription for a fertility drug and I wanted to dissolve into tears. In retrospect, I think it was less upsetting that I wasn’t pregnant and more upsetting that this season totally blindsided me. I was SO not in charge.

At home, I waved my white flag. I cried out to God and let go of my plans. OK, God. I get it. This is not about me. It is all about you and what you know is best for my family. I only think I know what's best. But you really know. I....trust you.

I think God then, perhaps, smiled and said, "Well, it's about time."

You knew it was coming, didn't you? I never had to fill that prescription. Without all the feverish planning and stress, I was suddenly, surprisingly, pregnant. It totally snuck up on me. We named our son Nathan, meaning "gift," knowing full well that he was exactly that. Not a result from our careful planning. He was God's gift. 

For reasons only He knows, up until now, God hasn't chosen to give us any more. And we are content with our two.

Just yesterday, I watched a friend face something unexpected. It was a small, everyday thing, but nonetheless, not what she planned. It was hard to watch because she was completely overwhelmed by it. She had no peace, no trust that someone else was holding her and all her circumstances together. And later that day, I realized her problem. She lives in all-out bondage to the lie that she is the one in charge. Most would call her an overachiever or a little high-strung. I observe that she is regularly stressed, usually exhausted, and void of true joy. Her hands are tightly shut around everything in her life.

This lie of being in control is insidious.
It sounds like, "If I don't make it happen, it won't."
And, "This is all on me."
And, "I don't need help; I can handle it."

It feels like a risky circus act of keeping twenty spinning plates in the air, perfectly balanced. 
Every single day, it feels terrifying, like everything might just come crashing down.
It also feels very, very lonely.

I know because I've been there. I thought I was in charge until God gently broke that lie, and then healed me up with the truth. The power of this lie certainly requires a breaking, and it hurts. But the Lord's correction is always in love. Always. And always with my best interest in mind.

The truth is that He is in charge. He knows what's best. I really, truly do not. I must hold every single thing in my life with open hands. Every plan, wish, relationship, job, goal, talent, possession...everything. None of us can know what tomorrow brings. But all of us can know a supernatural peace, despite our blindness. 

What is holding you back from fully trusting God with your plans? Your dreams? Your babies?

Whatever it is, let it go. Drop the plates. Open your hands. You can do it.

My frequent prayer is,
"Lord, you are God and I am not. May your will, not mine, be done."

He who holds all things together is so worthy of our trust.  


Friday, October 19, 2012

101 Wednesdays, Week 4

Well, after a few days of having a heavy heart for an unexplainable reason, today I woke up joyful. In the words of Rapunzel and the song that keeps going through my head this morning, "At last I've seen the liiiiight, and it's like the fog has lifted..." Sing it, ladies. You know you love it too.

So are you following along in our study here? What do you think so far? Did you love reading about Moses and freeing the Israelites from Egypt? Exodus is one of my favorite books of the Bible.

This past Wednesday, when I met with the ladies in our face-to-face study, we agreed to slow up the pace a bit and go deeper into the stories instead of moving so quickly. So we will have fewer chapters to read in the JSB so we can turn more to our regular Bibles. That way, you also get practice in using it, finding things, and becoming more familiar with it in general.

I really want you to grow not only in knowledge, but also in comfort with using God's word as a tool. If you're learning to sew, using a sewing machine seems difficult and overwhelming at first. But over time as you practice and learn how all the parts work together, it becomes an indispensable tool. It's no wonder so many of us have left our sewing machines as well as our Bibles in a closet to collect dust. They are both complex, but unlike a sewing machine, the words in your Bible really do have the power to change your life.   

Week 4
Chapters 14-16, through p. 135
Jesus Storybook Bible

1. This week, we'll look at the person of King David. He is the only person in the Bible to earn the description "a man after God's own heart." He was loved by the Lord, used by the Lord, and stood as a forerunner of Jesus in many ways. Yet, at times, David's life was a total mess. He was a man of great faith and great failures.

Our first story is about how he was chosen by God to be King. Look up 1 Samuel 16 in your Bible. The prophet Samuel was supposed to find the king among many brothers in one family. Naturally, he went to the oldest, strongest brother and asked the Lord if this was to be he. Read verses 6-7. What does it say God uses as his criteria? What about man's criteria? How do you observe this same truth at work in our world today?

2. It is a surprise that David is chosen because he is only a boy and the youngest in a long line of brothers. The next glimpse we see of David is on the battlefield with Goliath. He was not a soldier, and the Philistines were Israel's greatest enemy. Look up 1 Samuel chapter 17 in your Bible to find the whole story. Read verses 45-49. In verse 48, what was David's reaction when Goliath started to advance at him? Now think about the giants in your life. What is your typical response to them? What would that kind of courageous faith look like for you?

3. Finally, the JSB takes us to the Psalms, which is another word for songs. David was a prolific songwriter and a great musician, did you know that? Go to your Bible and flip through the Psalms. You'll notice that many Psalms have the words "A Psalm of David" at the start of it. Find one that particularly speaks to your heart and write it out (or the portion that means most to you) in your notebook. Briefly share why you chose the one that you did.

4. If you want to learn more about David and his biggest failures, read 2 Samuel chapters 11 and 12 in your Bible. Among being an unbelievable warrior, leader, loving king, and man of faith, he was also an adulterer, murderer, and liar. Because of his great sin, God took the life of his child born through his adultery. But in amazing grace, God brought redemption to David's mistakes by blessing his later marriage to the same woman, Bathsheba (he had killed her husband, after all), and giving them Solomon for a son. Solomon came to be known as the wisest man who ever lived, and succeeded David on the throne. If you look in your Bible's table of contents, you'll see that after the Psalms comes Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon. All three of these books were written by King Solomon. What does this legacy tell you about what God can do with, and in spite of, a person's shameful past?

Have a great weekend, friends!

Tomorrow, I'm posting something I realized I never put up on my own blog but appeared on Casey's a few months back for my mentoring series. It can be a little weekend read. Next week, I hope to share more of what I learned from Beth Moore last weekend. You all had such an amazing response to my first post on the weekend. It makes me so thankful for teachers like Beth, anointed to bring us God's living, active words that cut through our hearts right to what matters most. I hope and pray I have one ounce of her influence and her gift of teaching in my life. It is truly such a gift and I'm in awe every time I hear her. I think because I know it's so not her. I have no temptation to idolize Beth Moore because it's so clear to me that she is just a mouthpiece, just a willing and humble tool being used by God for mighty and powerful work.

He is such a generous God to speak to His children as He does.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Just not fitting in

Last weekend, I went to hear Beth Moore speak in person for my first time. Her teaching spanned a Friday night, and two morning sessions on Saturday. Often writing as fast as I could, I took 11 pages of notes in my big spiral bound notebook. (Why I brought a notebook and not a laptop is a question I'm still asking myself; I get so frustrated these days writing with a pen when I can type so much faster!)

I sat there thinking, I could write twenty blog posts on all this goodness...where will I even start in sharing how powerful this weekend is? 

Now that a few days have gone by, I know where to start. One truth keeps popping up in my mind. Among the hundred points Beth made, this one felt very relatable:

"Our lives feel like a squirming concoction of misfit parts."

She said that. She elaborated then, explaining that no matter who we are, or who we are with, we usually feel like we don't quite fit in. We feel like the odd one. We feel unhappy. Uncomfortable. We search and strain for more happiness and more comfort and more acceptance. But we never seem to achieve perfect equilibrium.

Let's take it down to me, personally.

My heart is always conflicted. I am a beautiful combination of strengths and weaknesses, flaws and gifts. I know I have God-given potential, but I'm held back by my brokenness. I want to serve God. I want to love others. But no matter how perfect I want to be, I never am. I make mistakes every single day. Sometimes I'm so keenly aware how far away from perfect I am that I feel defeated and exhausted.

Beth pointed out that humanity's very creation was conflicted: we are a handful of dust mixed with a handful of holy.

When I think of my social circles, I too can relate to what she said; I usually don't feel like I fit in, no matter the group. I'm the serious one who isn't that fun. Or the spiritual one to whom they can't relate. Or the older one. Or the one who doesn't like sushi. Or the conservative one. The one who can't afford it. The one with kids. The one who doesn't go to PTA meetings.

Lots of times, I don't even really "fit" with my husband. I could come up with lots of ways we don't work well together. I'm sure all of us could make a list of those things about our marriages. There are reasons I feel like I don't fit in my church's women's ministry. And my group of friends. And my extended family.

On the surface, you'd never know. You'd think I fit in just perfectly. But on the inside, where no one can see, I am a perpetual black sheep.

And what Beth said next sort of floored me. Despite our constant efforts to find a comfortable spot in this world, Jesus will NEVER let us fully find it. He will not solve all our squirminess. He will not make our marriages perfectly happy. He will not heal all our relationships and allow us to feel perfectly accepted.

Because we don't belong here. We were never meant to. And so in some ways, He will let us squirm.

Jesus wants me to know deep down that my home, my comfort, my soul's longing to fit somewhere will never be satisfied on this earth. He wants me to long for heaven.

And oh, how I do.

As negative as this whole post is sounding, isn't it sort of freeing? Like I can stop working so hard at smoothing out all the wrinkles in my life. I can accept some of the squirming as not only normal, but tolerable. And ordained, for my own good. A reminder of where I need to keep my eyes focused.

Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example. For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth. But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.

Phil 3:17-21

Friends, it is at best an illusion and at worst deception straight from hell that you can find or achieve lasting happiness here on earth. We can have joy, certainly, knowing that our hope is independent of our circumstances. But happiness is fleeting, and our lives will always feel like a squirming concoction of misfit parts.

Can you find some rest in that truth? Can you too let go of some of the striving in your life to make all the pieces fit together?

I hope so. Praying we all can find some rest in knowing this is not our home, be a little more content with the squirming and the conflict, and know the Lord is our Shepherd, even though this flock is full of black sheep.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sunday Sweet Potato Soup and Fighting Giants

Happy Sunday, friends.


Make this soup.

It's easy, cheap, and delish.  I tried it last night and it was amazing.


I guest posted at Amanda's blog last week as she headed out to the Influence conference. I shared a post I came across in my archives from about a year and a half ago. Before she'd asked me to guest post, I had happened upon it, and God used His words to speak to me again. So I revisited the post, and found it was perfect for Amanda's space and her Desire to Inspire series.

I wrote it at a time I was feeling quite small and helpless in light of the big battles that existed in my life. So it's about that. Fighting giants and finding faith. If you're on a battlefield right now (wait, aren't we all?), may it encourage you.  

{improved adapted from a Martha Stewart Living recipe, October 2011}

Sweet Potato Soup

3 T olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 leek, white and lt. green parts sliced and rinsed
1 tart green apple, peeled and cubed
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
2 lbs orange-fleshed sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cubed
4 C chicken stock
1/4 C half and half or heavy cream
salt & pepper
salted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium. Cook garlic and leek until soft, 4 min.
2. Add apple, celery, and ginger. Cook for 3 min.
3. Add sweet potato and stock and bring to a boil.
4. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes or until potatoes are soft.
5. Using an immersion (or stick) blender, blend until entire soup is creamy and smooth. You can also use a blender and work in batches to puree mixture.
6. Remove from heat, and add cream, and salt and pepper to taste. Briefly blend again.
7. Sprinkle with pepitas before serving.



Thursday, October 11, 2012

101 Wednesdays, Week 3

So are you following along?

Last week in 101 Wednesdays, we looked at areas of our lives where God is perhaps asking us to believe in the impossible, like He did Abraham. We looked at how hard it is to understand how God sees us compared to how we see ourselves, and how we resist believing He calls us chosen and beautiful when our shortcomings haunt us. Leah was no stranger to this identity crisis, and we read about her story too. Then there was Joseph. He had the worst series of unfortunate events happen in his life maybe ever. Yet God saw the bigger picture, and was coordinating circumstances to bless Joseph and redeem his past way beyond what anyone could have guessed.

Each week, I pray our hearts are softening to different ways of seeing God and seeing ourselves. If you've been following, don't you agree that after you spend time reading and processing, it's like your spirit does a big sigh of relief? That's how I feel, anyway.

So this week, I've pasted the assignment below. I got a little flack for writing "hard" questions. But guys, this is the point. Not to confuse or frustrate you, but to encourage you to look inside your heart. Bring your issues to the table. Let God into your struggles. I want to make this short time each week worthwhile. It's not another activity to check off. It's meant to be powerful and equipping for our everyday lives. I really want for you to get a glimpse of how deeply God loves you and how relevant the Bible is to your life. Nothing else you spend time on during the week (unless you're going to church, I suppose) can fill you up in the same way. So yeah. The questions will make you think. Not sorry :)

Have a great weekend, friends.

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This week, I'm asking you to look up three verses in a regular Bible. Do you have one? If not, I suggest picking one up in an easy to read, modern language translation such as NIV (phrase by phrase translation) or ESV (word for word translation).

Week 3

Chapters 10-13, to page 115, JSB

When you have a quiet half hour or so when you’re less likely to get interrupted, briefly ask God to open your eyes and ears to what He wants to show you. Then, in your notebook, answer these questions. Try to answer them as honestly as you can.  Do the questions for yourself.

1. The story of Moses freeing the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt is one of the most important in the Bible mainly because of what it foreshadows. First, let’s talk about how God’s people were slaves. The Egyptian Pharaohs were harsh rulers, mercilessly oppressing the Israelite slaves for four hundred years. This whole scene will come to represent how without God, we all live in captivity to sin. And sin is a ruthless oppressor. In what ways do you at times feel oppressed by or captive to sin? (if you need help, think about how difficult it is to break a bad habit, or shake off guilt, or how discouraged you feel repeating the same mistake over and over…)

2. Look up John 8:31-34 where Jesus explains this to some skeptics. How does He say we can be freed from our captivity?

3. The last plague that God sent the Egyptians before Pharaoh finally let the people go was the plague of death. Once again, this is so important because of what it foreshadows. Moses told God’s people that during the night, the angel of death would take the lives of all the first born children of every home in Egypt EXCEPT those which had the blood of an innocent lamb painted on the doorposts. Those homes would be passed over by the angel (why the Jews celebrate Passover, and why they refer to the “Passover lamb”). The blood of the lamb on the doorposts that night in Egypt is what led to the slaves’ freedom from death and since it was the last plague, freedom from slavery. The Israelites walked out of the country that night, on their way to the promised land.

In John 1:29, what does John the Baptist call Jesus when he sees him for the first time?

In the exact same way, Jesus’ blood when He died on the cross became a covering for us, not only protecting us from (eternal spiritual) death, but also freeing us from the grip sin and darkness had on our lives. However, He doesn’t force us to accept this free gift of forgiveness. We are covered and freed if, and only if, we believe Him and entrust our lives to His care.

Have you entrusted your life to God and received His gift of forgiveness? If not, why not take a minute to talk to Him right now?

4. The stories about Moses parting the Red Sea, going hungry in the desert, the 10 commandments, and Jericho are all about God’s people facing impossibilities. Right after they were freed from slavery, they faced some HUGE challenges. God was certainly trying to grow their faith muscles now that they were walking with Him and giving them opportunities to trust Him in the face of impossible circumstances. Take a minute to recall three things you’ve experienced that may not have been pleasant at the time, but grew your faith in God. Are there any happening now?

Finish today by reading James 1:1-4 for one reason why trials are allowed in our lives.

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Monday, October 08, 2012

My thoughts on teaching

I guess I'd call myself a teacher.

However, I've never been employed as one. I have no formal education in teaching. You could say one of my spiritual gifts is teaching (at least that's how I score on this test). But discerning what to teach and when and to whom is a regular challenge.

I do find myself constantly teaching my kids. Though I've never homeschooled, and don't plan to as of now, nearly every day, I'm actively teaching them something. The other day, we had a whole conversation about legal liability and why our HOA wants us to take down the tree swing. Today I walked them through the whole process of how to get a driver's license. Maybe a little deep for two elementary school aged kids, but I try not to underestimate their ability to understand real world situations if explained on their level. You could say I'm in the constant process of informally educating them on emotions, relationships, the way the world works, who God is, why they are on this earth, and a million other things. That alone qualifies me as a teacher, right?

But at times, though I know I'm capable of certain kinds of teaching, I have a sense that I should not.

For instance, it gets really tricky when I try to teach something to my husband. It may be okay if it's about one of the kids, but sometimes it's not. It may be okay if it's a spiritual matter, but usually not. Often he feels disrespected if I'm communicating something in a teachery way.

Another situation in which I'm struggling to find my place is volunteering in the classroom. If you are a teacher, I'd love your input here. Once she figured out I was capable of it, one of the kids' teachers decided my job would be to take the lowest group of about 7 students into an adjacent classroom to reteach math concepts to them. Basically, tutor them, come up with sample problems, use the white board, etc.  In other words, she wants me to be a second teacher because they are way behind. I feel bad for the kids. I worked with them last week. They clearly have no other help, and most don't come from homes where the adults speak English. How exactly the kids can understand the slight difference between the "hundreds place" and the "hundredths place" is beyond me. I'm capable of giving them some extra help. But I'm not sure it's my job. It's not at all why I'm volunteering. If I agree to the teacher's plans, I'll never be with my own child. Again, I have no training in teaching math, nor do I want to be a tutor. I'm volunteering 90 minutes a week to be involved in my child's life, not be the teacher's assistant. And I'm not sure how to communicate that gently.

Then there's church. I was recently asked to be a part of a rotating teaching team for the 4th/5th grade youth group. This is something I've agreed to, and have my first teaching date in two weeks! But when I stand back, I'm realizing that I've never spoken to 50 or 75 "tweens" before. What if they chatter, or giggle, or are completely bored by what I'm saying? I don't know how to be cool and funny. I don't know how to respond to rude behavior, especially in church. Though I haven't been given my topic yet, I know in my brain that I'm capable of standing before them and having something to say, I just feel out of my element as a teacher. I feel stretched.

Which isn't a bad thing. I'm just hashing out my thoughts with you guys on the subject today. I know a few of you are teachers, and I thought maybe you'd have some tips or input for me. Of course prayer will be a part of my prep for both the conversation with the teacher and the teaching at church.

But it's tricky, this teaching thing.

Maybe that's why I decided to write a blog post.

I'm comfy here. And you guys are so encouraging and helpful. I'm really thankful for your words, whenever you have some to offer.

So no profound wrap-up this time; I'm just processing. If you think of it, please pray with/for me for wisdom and discernment in teaching...what and when and to whom. Thanks friends.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens...a time to be silent, and a time to speak....
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7


Friday, October 05, 2012

Weekend Fall Craft: Falling Leaves Placemats

If you've been around here a while, you know I used to have another blog where a friend and I would post about crafts and recipes. Welp, I thought I'd repost here some ideas I tried last fall because I still love them.   

Personalized Falling Leaves Placemats

I bet you already have fall-colored acrylic paint in your cabinet.
Brown, red, orange and yellow is what you need for this first project.

I bought these at IKEA; a pack of 4 is $5. Whoa. so cheap. And i love that they're cork.
TYST Place mat IKEA
 This is SO easy. Fingerpainted leaves.

I painted our names on each placemat, along the trunk of one tree.

My little guy does NOT like to get his fingers messy, so he was a hard sell on this project. (I don't know ANYONE like that...??) He lasted about 7 minutes before the torture of having paint on his fingers was more than he could stand. I did get a smile out of him though. A half-hearted one

My daughter made a jumping pile on hers.

I was happy to have the remaining two placemats to decorate myself.

They're sorta flimsy and may not hold up forever, but I still love how they turned out! A couple fall-colored candles in my centerpiece and a white tablecloth made for a very simple and lovely table arrangement.

Five bucks.

Fifteen minutes of fingerpainty fun.

New fall decor.
That's perhaps the best time and money we spent all week.

Have a great weekend!